Who am I?
I am Chris and I live with my soulmate Ian, my elderly Mum and our rescue dogs in a hamlet in the Western Highlands of Scotland.
Community Internet provider by day, potter by night... and keen to change this around within the next couple of years.
A bit of history
I've been wanting to do pottery for most of my adult life but that very life got in the way too many times.
In 2008, wanting to start with pottery I was looking for alternative firing methods (I could not afford a kiln), when I came across some wonderful jewellery and art pieces made from polymer clay. It caught my eye and since you only needed a regular oven to cure the pieces, I decided to try it. I was hooked!
I dived in deep and binged on books and dvds - yes, Youtube was not yet that much of a thing - and learned many techniques.
While attending a craft fair, someone said to me "oh.. I would love to learn how to make these" to which I replied without thinking...."That can be arranged! I am planning on providing workshops if there is enough interest"
What got in to me, I don't know, but sure enough.. the word was out and before the end of the day, I had a group of interested students lined up!
I loved teaching and passing on my passion to others, seeing those happy glowing faces when people returned home with their beautiful creations.
And then.. life happened again. In the shape of Freddy... a benign brain tumour, the size of a golf ball. "He" had been living on my brain unnoticed, but it was getting a bit cramped so he decided to throw a wobble. He appeared out of nowhere.. one sunny day in February. You can read about that infamous day HERE
From being diagnosed to getting rid of Freddy took 3 days, a hospital transfer and total panic and confusion for me and my family.
I did not come prepared for the aftermath though. I turned from an independent woman into a helpless, extremely fatigued one who could not even hold a cup of coffee for 5 minutes. Getting dressed and undressed, showering, eating.. it all took an eternity leaving me exhausted beyond belief.
My life as I knew it was definitely over. It was February 2011... 2 months before my 50th birthday.
I was not allowed to drive, stuck at home and in need of finding a new way of making money to pay the bills.
Back to work
Running my craft lessons online would be one solution but we had a really poor internet connection in our rural neck of the woods. I searched and found a solution: we founded a community company which not only gave ourselves a high speed internet but has since grown arms and legs, providing a service to nearly 500 people in the rural areas around us.
It's fair to say that my creative ideas had to take a back seat, big time!
After a hiatus of a year, I slowly took up claying again, but it was too tiring. So I took up colouring as I found it hugely relaxing, and I went on to making cards and mixed media pieces, painting with acrylics, dog portraits with coloured pencils and oils... but none of these gave me the same satisfaction and enjoyment as having my hands in clay, polymer or other.
Here's a selection of all the other things I did :)
Realising the dream!
Come April 2021, my 60th birthday and easing ever so quickly towards pension age and retirement, I decided it was time to pursue this long neglected passion and give myself a head start before reaching that dreaded milestone.
Time for a kiln! We raided the piggy bank and ordered a "Little Chief" from the lovely people at Northern Kilns and called him DANTE.. you know, from "Inferno", and he is due to arrive in July.
(19 days 4 hours 38 minutes from the time of writing. I am so excited!)
I got some clay and am preparing pots and test tiles to get a load of items ready to fire on the day he arrives and I am loving every minute of it.
So far I have made a collection of small pots and vases while trying out various clays. I will be bisque firing them as soon as Dante gets here, after which they will be decorated/glazed and fired again. I can bring most of my polymer clay skills to ceramics so you'll see colourful and quirky and some light and zen inspired pieces.
BUT, hand building a piece takes time and I really would like to make wheel-thrown functional ceramics: mugs and pots and vases and planters and plates and.... oh so much more! Quite a feat without a potter’s wheel. It would take me forever.
A modest wheel, complete with chair, boards, bats and throwing tools, costs £2100.
This wheel will allow me to make larger quantities and hopefully allow me to switch my day/night jobs all together prior to retirement age!
I would also gladly start teaching again and share my passion for ceramics.
I am aware that this is a difficult time for so many people all over the world and I have given the launch of this Crowdfunder much thought. I know I will need to continue working well passed my pension age, so why not doing it with something I love! Life is too short to not follow our passion and pursue our dreams, isn't it?
As my kiln has not arrived yet, I cannot show you what the final products will look like but I hope that my previous works in other media and the non fired pieces I have been preparing, will give you a good idea of the quality you may expect
In exchange for your kind donation, you will receive a handcrafted piece made especially for crowdfund supporters, and a heartfelt thank you.
Any contribution, great or small, will help me achieve my goal.
A 5 cm (2") round ornament with a word of your choice imprinted (e.g. Love, Dream, the name of a beloved one, white with a random coloured pattern. Perfect to hang on a wall in a small space or get several and tie them together for a chain ornament. (please let me know if this is what you would like to do and I can make 2 holes in the ornament instead of one)
£15 Trinket dish
A small handy ring/key dish with a word of your choice imprinted on a white background with a random coloured pattern.
£20 Textured trinket dish
Textured and beautifully glazed. A little statement dish to keep your keys or rings in a convenient place.
£30 Hand build bud vase
Rectangular bud vase with abstract decoration. This "rectangular" vase has a hand textured surface and will nicely compliment any type of flower buds or even look fabulous with herbs on your kitchen sill.
£50 Berry bowl or planter
You can either opt for a bowl to hold your favourite berries or choose a planter with an original design to bring extra colour to your garden.
£75 (Quirky 3 legged pot)
Unique 3 legged pot with a colourful pattern. Happiest on a shelf next to your favourite book.
£100 Set of 3 matching nesting dishes
A set of organically shaped dishes decorated with a combination of unique patterns and colours.
£200 Carved bowl or vase
A bowl or vase with beautiful glazes over a uniquely carved pattern.
If you do not have the space for another ceramic pot or plate, no worries! You can bring a smile to the face of a friend, someone who deserves a pick me up, someone you want to thank, or just because. Just write "nominate" in your award and I will contact you to get the details afterwards.
You can also nominate charity close to my heart: KWK9 rescue. Without their love and dedication for lost and mistreated dogs, we would not have our 2 best friends at home. They have been our steady companions and kept us going when we hit yet another bump in the road. Instead of sending the item to you, I will post it to them to auction it off and raise money to pay for treatment, food and supplies for more abandoned dogs. Especially now that a lot of people are returning to work and no longer have time for them, numbers are creeping up.
I will gladly keep you updated on the progress.. especially once my kiln has arrived. Please check out my Facebook page and Instagram where I will be posting updates and pictures.